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Another Step Away

Over the past year I’ve begun to reclaim my life. As I’ve progressively backed away from social media consumption these 12 months, I’ve finally started to regain control of the technology in my life. Before long, I worked myself down to enough time to post one Instagram picture per day and a few minutes to respond to comments from the past 24 hours. And I cannot tell you how good it feels. Digital tools are great at instantly connecting us with folks from all around the world, but the flip side of that blessing is that my attention and affection were getting spread pretty thin. This, in spite of the fact that I’ve always valued my family and working with...

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Toothing Planes for Vises and Bench Tops

Mike and I have been making and installing a few more vises on our Nicholson benches lately. As we’ve been fitting and adjusting them, I’ve been reminded of one the most significant revelations in my exploration of hand-tool woodworking: the power of toothed surfaces. In my view, one of the most overlooked features of workholding is a grippy surface. Think about it: if you’re trying to hold a board as securely as possible, why would you try to use a silky smooth vise to do so? A rough texture makes a major difference in holding power. Here’s where the toothing plane comes in. A toothing plane is a scraping plane that has an iron filed with tiny teeth. It’s useful...

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Apply Now for our Summer Workshop

We are now taking applications for our Summer Workshop taking place June 17-21. After writing all week about the philosophy behind this five-day workshop, we are finally posting the application here. As explained in Wednesday’s post, the reason we are taking applications is because there will be no charge to students. Instead, we have set up a work exchange arrangement in which our six students will spend two days helping Mike and me work on our projects around/on the shop followed by three days of instruction and bench time. Before filling out the application, please make sure you read each of the posts about the workshop linked below:  M&T SUMMER WORKSHOP: JUNE 17-21, 2019 DEMOCRATIC WOODWORKINGA PRE-INDUSTRIAL WOODWORKING IMMERSION AN EXPERIENCE MONEY CAN’T...

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An Experience Money Can’t Buy

This summer’s workshop is an experience money can’t buy. Let me explain the three factors behind this: First, although Mike and I have long harbored enthusiasm to one day host our own classes, we knew ourselves well enough to foresee that it would be hard to juggle another thing on our plate. We still have a number of shop construction projects to do (windows, final doors, wood shed, back porch, outhouse, etc.) that represent a lot of hours. On top of that, every week we have people ask us when the next “Apprenticeship” video (which has been under snail-paced production) is coming out. And it goes without saying that producing our magazine does not happen overnight but consumes the majority...

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A Pre-industrial Woodworking Immersion

Some woodworking classes are project-based while others focus on building skills. Though we do plan to send each student home with a completed item, the emphasis in our 2019 summer workshop will be development of broad competence. Our goal is to deepen understanding of pre-industrial woodworking through hands-on experimentation in the shop. This could be compared to language immersion. Immersion in a foreign country teaches you practical, on-the-ground linguistic skills in a way that technical book learning never can. This is because a large percentage of communication is nonverbal and culture-specific (facial expressions, gestures, postures, tone of voice, etc.), and developing this kind of tacit knowledge is essential for full comprehension. Contrast this with the awkward, rigid speech from many...

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Democratic Woodworking

As we start to share more information about our upcoming summer workshop, Joshua and I are struggling to contain our enthusiasm. We’ve discussed this idea over many cups of coffee during the last year-and-a-half, and are excited to see it’s finally coming together. But some might be wondering why we are beginning to host workshops at all. Wouldn’t we be better off spending all our waking hours breaking up arguments over David Pye or double-iron planes? The way we see it, teaching workshops perfectly fits our philosophy of empowering individuals with handcraft skills in today’s increasingly complex technological society. But we’re not the first ones to attempt to find a better way. The Industrial Revolution incited several movements pushing back...

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M&T Summer Workshop: June 17-21, 2019

On Friday, March 8th (one week from now), we will be opening registration for our summer workshop, which will be taking place June 17-21 at our shop in Sedgwick, Maine. But don’t worry. This won’t be a “feeding frenzy” first-come-first-serve, refresh-the-browser-as-panic-ensues kind of release. Stay tuned throughout the next week for details about the workshop registration, topic, and format. In the meantime, here’s a little about our vision:  As Mike and I sought to develop a unique workshop format, one of the things that came up time and again was that we wanted this week to be an expression of the distinctive philosophy driving M&T. As you know, Mortise & Tenonis much more than a “how-to” magazine – In each...

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The Job’s Only Half Done

One of the things I love about building vernacular furniture is that when everything is assembled and joinery planed flush, the job is only half done – a clear expanse of white pine has always been seen as an inviting canvas for artistic whimsy. Yesterday, my two older boys and I made a small hanging knife box for my wife, Julia. Besides the angled sides and scallop details, this build is nothing more than a few pieces of white pine nailed together. (This design was inspired by object #125 in Russell Kettle’s The Pine Furniture of Early New England, by the way.) This morning, after consulting with my wife about her decorative preferences, my oldest and I tackled the paint. We began...

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A Fond Farewell to Issue One

During a quick inventory of M&T back issues in our storage unit, I recently discovered that we’re about to hit a significant milestone in the life of this magazine – one that had me reflecting a bit about “the old days.” Issue One is where it all began. In February 2016, Joshua, his wife and kids, a few of their friends, and I were shipping the inaugural issue of M&T out of their living room. We’d set up a big plank on sawhorses in the center of the room, and the dining room table added a few precious square feet of workspace. The kitchen counter was fully occupied, too. For several days, a rotating crew of volunteers wrapped the magazine...

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Pre-order Issue Six Now!

  We are excited to announce Issue Six is now available for pre-order in our store! (There is free domestic shipping on all pre-orders and subscriptions.) If you don’t already have a subscription, you can sign up here. or If you want to pre-order only this issue, you can do so here.   This pre-order window will close after Tuesday, March 26th. After that date, the shipping charge will be applied and there will be no brown paper and wax-sealed wrapping.  

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